The Ministry of Health of Israel announced the discovery of 20 cases resulting from a subvariant of the omicron strain, discovered in South Africa.
The culprit is BA2, which has already been identified in several countries and has more mutations compared to omicron, confirmed Israeli scientists, who currently do not know if the new subvariant is more dangerous than the South African strain.
“At this point, there is no evidence to indicate that it behaves any differently than omicron. The Ministry of Health will update the public on any relevant developments,” the ministry said in its latest statement.
The subvariant, called BA2, was discovered in India, but has also been observed in China, Denmark, Australia, Canada, and Singapore.
In the report from the Israeli health authority, the scientists said they were concerned about this new development of the virus.
In the coronavirus that causes the covid-19 disease, there is a chain of 30,000 letters that represent chemical properties and that make up its genome. To replicate, the coronavirus attaches to the outside of a human cell and then enters it, hijacking the cellular machinery and directing it to make copies of the virus.
When this infected cell produces new coronaviruses, it makes copying errors that generate “mutations”. When scientists observe distinctive mutations they are called “variant”. The passage of time, infections and the unvaccinated favor the appearance of new mutations.
“The appearance of a new and potentially disturbing variant has always been expected when the virus remains uncontrolled in millions of people. will continue to mutate and that is why we must remain vigilant and agile in our responses. This variant almost certainly arose in an immunosuppressed individual who was unable to clear the original infection. This is most likely an unvaccinated HIV patient in South Africa, where the virus can replicate and evolve,” said Professor Jeremy Nicholson, from the Directing Center and Futures Institute of Health at Murdoch University in Australia.
For Deborah Cromer, head of the group of epidemiology of the infection of the Kirby Institute from Australia, “the appearance of a new variant, although disturbing, is far from unexpected. “Viruses constantly mutate and take on new forms, and the level of existing immunity against a new variant is key to determining the impact it will have. Scientists will have to quickly use established laboratory methods to determine the degree of immunity of vaccinated people.”